Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I respect that many of my readers might not be meat eaters and I don't begrudge that, nor do I ever question their choice. Part of the reason I write this blog is to share my journey at Apifera with myself. One can choose to read this post or not, but please respect another's life choice if you choose to comment. Thank you.
Today was harvest day for the meat lambs. I did normal barn routines, and brought them to a cool and shady holding pen. I have a ritual of sitting with them briefly thanking them for the good work they've done and how we appreciate it so very much.
This year for the first time, I stayed with the lambs and held each one so the butcher could just take them with less stress for the actual butchering - a quick slit to the throat, through the vertebrae so the brain shuts down. I can't say enough good things about our butcher. But after eight years of hospicing ill animals and watching many die their natural deaths, this year I knew I had to watch the process of my sheep dying after their slaughter. This was part of my personal evolution as a farmer...and for me, part of my responsibility of someone who wants to eat her own farm's meat. It is only right I am here for them in their last breath, as I am there for them at their first breath.
I've said this many times, raising your own meat is a process, for some of us it involves sorting through conflicts. I have evolved over the past eight years of shepherding and each year I have come closer to my quest for comfort in being a meat eater. When we moved here, I decided I only wanted to eat meat we needed and grew ourselves. I was a vegetarian for over seven years, as was Martyn at one time, and we still maintain a 50% vegetarian eating habits. We also buy farm raised chicken from local farmers a few times a year.
Some of you have watched me evolve from angst meat eater to being more accepting of the annual harvest day as part of the cycle of farming and this time has allowed me to formulate a very clear understanding of myself in this universe. I know if I were a bird, the cat would eat me, or a car windshield would, if I was a deer, man would shoot me or the coyote might. The chickens eat the worms that some say have no faces but I doubt that. The rabbits eat the garden veggies that many say don't feel pain when ripped from their stalks, but I doubt that too. I'm at the top of the food chain for now, and I feel better when I get meat in my body. And I want to be there on its birthday and death day. And I have been.
There is always a 'feeling' on harvest day, before the truck arrives. After all, I know something my animal doesn't. But I felt no remorse. I saw my animals die fast, and I watered their blood into the compost area where the chickens stood waiting. I partook in the annual traditions of carrying the livers back to the house and fried them with butter and onions. It's a serious day, but it's a grateful day for us too.